It is the end of 2017 and thank God. With all the craziness of this year, it was great to find solace in my favorite thing, music. Despite a troubling climate around the world, we at least had some great music to at least provide some sort of distraction. And while we listened to popular albums like Kendrick and Jay Z, some albums didn’t get the limelight they deserved. Below are my favorite underrated albums of 2017.
This album is basically my best friend in music form. It understand me, it sympathizes with me, it listens to me, doesn’t think I’m crazy. SSS is about the journey of a woman being comfortable with herself and balancing love and independence. It is about leaving the shell of pain that you have been used to and being comfortable with loving yourself. Its also just a really fun album and empathizes every adjective it is named after.
Favorite song: “Personal”
I first discovered Smino last year at a Redbull SoundSelect concert and become obsessed. I fell in love with the with the mix of rap, funk and gospel and it felt like each week since it came out in March I’ve discovered a new aspect of the album of the like. It just such a textured album that doesn’t fall sort on lyrics or productions. This album also motivated me to see Smino live three times this year, and with the live instruments and his voice, I would pay good money to see him numerous more times. I’m excited for what’s to come next.
Favorite song: “Wild Irish Roses”
They: Nü Religion: Hyena
I feel like me liking They. shows that you should actually read those press releases that people in the industry are hounded with because sometimes it is actually really good stuff. I got a press release with They.’s music back in 2016 and I only gave it a chance because I heard the name before since They. had opened for Bryson Tiller earlier that year. I feel in love with the song “Deep End.” Fast forward to 2017 and once their debut album came out I was a huge They. Stan, getting super early to their concert to be in the front row and singing along to every song. What’s great about this duo is that they don’t make any shortcuts in their lyrics or productions, and knowing that the end product is fully created by the group is amazing.
Favorite song: “Deep End”
Before Chance and Francis became “Summer Friends,” Drake and Francis sang “Karaoke.” Back in 2010 on Drake’s first album, Thank Me Later, Drake had a song produced by Francis and The Lights called “Karaoke.” To this day its still one of my favorite Drake songs. The unique production and sound of the song was something you never heard from Drake. The melancholy of the lyrics and Drake’s hollow voice definitely takes you to the sad, regretful place that the song is about.
Francis was asked by Drake’s camp about making a song after Francis was invited on tour with him. After trying a few different tracks, he eventually gave Drake the “Karaoke” track that he had made for himself.
While Francis and The Lights went on to do great work and also collaborate with Kanye and Chance, I still hold a special place in my heart for “Karaoke” and its on of my favorite Drake deep cuts. What is yours?
Shea Serrano, my personal King of Twitter and the leader of the FOH Army, did a Reddit AMA to promote his new book, “Basketball (And Other Things).” A Reddit user asked him if he could add additional years to his book, “The Rap Yearbook,” (it only went up to 2014) what songs he would choose from 2015-2017. His choices were:
2015: Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”
2016: Desiinger’s “Panda” or Migos “Bad and Boujee”
2017: Possibly Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”
Interesting choices for most important song. I read the book, so I know its essential to have the argument to support the choices, and while I agree with 2015 and don’t have a decision on 2017 yet, I think I would pick Chance The Rapper’s “No Problem” for most important song of 2016. Chance showed that an independent artist can exist and have mainstream opportunities without the backing of a label. Also, this song and artist did influence the Grammys to change the rules allowing streaming albums to qualify for nominations.
Insecure has been dropping Frank Ocean lyrics in every episode of Season 2, but this isn’t the first time that Frank Ocean has been featured on a TV show. Back in 2012, during the finale season of Gossip Girl and after the release of his debut album, Channel Orange, Frank Ocean’s music was featured on the popular show. This was the first and only time a Gossip Girl episode featured music from only one artist, and the first time Frank Ocean music was featured on television.
The songs that were featured were “Super Rich Kids,” “Lost,” “Sweet Life,” “Pyramids,” and “Thinkin ‘Bout You.”
Check out a playlist for this episode below:
What is your favorite Gossip Girl moment? What is your favorite song from Channel Orange.
At Sunday’s Video Music Awards, Chance wore the yellow hat of his signature ‘3,’ adding another color to the collection. It was previously featured in his Teen Vogue cover shoot, but this was the first time he wore it out in public.
Let’s take a look back at all the colorways of the hat so far.
Chance traded his Sox hat for the 3 hat around the time he announced he was releasing “Coloring Book” in early 2016. This color option is also featured on the mixtape cover. The hate is available online.
Chance premiered the khaki color around the time of the 2016 Video Music Awards, to match his khaki overalls. He has continued to wear the hat on many occasions.
Chance premiered the red hat during Beyonce’s 70s theme birthday party. This hat has been in his rotation since, including being in the “Same Drugs” video.
Chance wore the orange hat for the photo shoot for the “Thank You Obama” clothing collection. It hasn’t been apart of his hat rotation since.
May 2017-Light Blue
The light blue version premiered around the time of the “I’m The One” video. This hat has been worn frequently and is available online.
Chance wore the yellow hat for his Teen Vogue cover shoot. It made a reappearance at this year’s VMAs.
August 2017-Hunter Green
While announcing that he was giving out free State backpacks at the Bud Billiken parade, Chance wore this hunter green version for the shoot.
What is your favorite color of the hat so far?
Jay Z’s, “Big Pimpin” was released 17 years ago today.
The last single from Vol. 3: The Life & Times of Sean Carter, this song got the Making The Video treatment. It was shot in Trinidad during Carnival.
This is my favorite Jay Z songs of all time. The fun lyrics. The cadence. The beautiful music video and its use of white in contrast to the color of Carnival. This song was the introduction to the opulent rap that Jay would soon be known for.
This song is also named the best rap song of 2000 by Shea Serrano in The Rap Year Book.
There was actually a lot of drama behind this song. As discussed in this article, Pimp C originally did not like the beat, and refused to travel to be in the video. Jay Z also said in his Decoded after reading these lyrics, he regretted some of the lyrics.
Despite all of this, still one of my favorite songs. Check out the video below.
There was a mini Victorious cast reunion at The Forum stop of her Dangerous Woman tour by having past castmates Leon Thomas (Andre) and Matt Bennett (Robbie) hang out backstage for the show.
These two have always been supportive of her music career. Bennett was in her “One Last Time” video and Thomas was a producer on her debut album “Yours Truly” and on her EP “Christmas Kisses.”
Check out the pic of them back together below.
During his audition for the musical interpretation of “White Man Can’t Jump,” which I would love to hate-watch, Elijah decided to sing “Let Me Be Your Star” for his audition instead of his original choice of a song from “Newsies.” His rendition reminded me of this gem of a show. Yeah, the actual story of the show didn’t make sense after a while, but the music of “Smash” was always amazing. Also, it introduced me to Leslie Odom Jr. from Hamilton so another win for this show.
Check out Elijah audition below and check out a playlist of the best songs from Smash.
“Umbrella,” the first single off Rihanna third album “Good Girl Gone Bad” celebrates its 10th birthday today. And that song is the definition of a love hate relationship in music to me.
“Umbrella” was the song of the summer in 2007 and I heard it at least a million times a day. Keep in mind, this was before Spotify, so it wasn’t like I was choosing this song on purpose. I couldn’t it avoid it. The remix with Chris Brown. The Mandy Moore cover that was featured on The Hills. I couldn’t avoid it. Still to this day, I don’t purposely play that song.
However, this song did mark the transition where me, and basically everyone else, fell in love with Rihanna. She had two successful albums before that. “Music of The Sun” and “A Girl Like Me” had hit singles. “Pow De Replay” “S.O.S” and “Unfaithful” were big songs. But with “Umbrella,” Rihanna showed that she didn’t need some formula anymore. She cut her hair. She was sexual, yet owned her sexuality. “Good Girl Gone Bad” spawned so many hit singles that is showed the popular of “Umbrella” wasn’t a fluke. Rihanna basically didn’t make a misstep since “Umbrella,” so even though I loathe that particular song, glasses up to celebrating 10 years of Rihanna being flawless.
Bieber celebrates his 23rd birthday today, March 1st and while we can talk about all of his shenanigans, I rather be positive and think of his best work. And while his last album “Purpose” was nominated for Album of The Year and this year’s Grammy, I actually think his best work is the unsung hero, “Journals.”
Many people don’t even remember this album. It is more or less a compilation of singles that he released at the end of 2013 on “Music Mondays” for ten weeks in head of the release of his film “Believe” on iTunes each week, with a few extra songs. The songs didn’t sound like any of his other pop heavy stuff that he released before with “My World” and “Believe.” It was R&B influenced, moody and probably his most personal album to date. Fresh off the break up with Selena Gomez, Justin moaned about heartbreak and regret over beat reminiscent of R&B slow jams. He wasn’t on the 2015 mindset of “Love Yourself,” he wanted Selena back and made it really clear on songs like “All That Matter To Me.”
While his sound was completely different, he did include his obligatory rap features, however, even these had a different approach. On his song “Confident” featured Chance The Rapper. Keep in mind this was 2013, the same year he started to gain recognition with his mix tape “Acid Rap” but was no where near the mainstream success that he would have years later. Bieber showing that he had his ear to the streets edged him up a bit more.
His record company did not like the new sound, and plans for a physical release of the music was scratched. The album was only available digitally until it was released on vinyl in 2016.
Despite negative opinions, “Journals” was a turning point in Bieber’s career. He eventually experimented with other type of music, which I think makes “Purpose” his most diverse musical project. To me, “Journals” is his strongest, most intimate work.